Chinese emissions to peak this decade: report

China is the world’s largest coal consumer. (Image: Herry Lawford)

China is the world’s largest coal consumer. (Image: Herry Lawford)

By Courtney Pearson

June 25, 2015

CHINA’S greenhouse gas emissions could begin to decline sooner than expected, according to a London School of Economics study that showed the country’s emissions could peak within the decade.

The economic powerhouse is the largest consumer of coal in the world, and its consumption is has grown at a rate of about 10 per cent in the first decade of the 21st century. However, in 2014 coal usage fell by nearly 3 per cent, with a further decline in the first quarter of 2015.

The China’s “new normal”: structural change, better growth, and peak emissions report stated it was likely that the country’s coal reliance would continue declining, while the use of natural gas would rise rapidly during the next five to 10 years.

“Analysing trends in the key emitting sectors, we conclude that China’s GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions are unlikely to peak as late as 2030 — the upper limit set by President Xi Jinping in November 2014 — and are much more likely to peak by 2025,” the report stated.

“They could peak even earlier than that. With a comprehensive approach to reform, they could also fall rapidly post-peak.”

If China’s emissions peaked by 2025, the reported forecast a peak emissions level of between12.5 billion tonnes and 14bt of carbon dioxide.

“This could hold open the possibility that global GHG emissions could be brought onto a pathway consistent with the international goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius,” it said.

The report’s authors stated that the original commitment for emissions was a conservative “upper limit from a government that prefers to under-promise and over-deliver”.

China has a major impact on global greenhouse emissions due to its size; influence on the economic model of developing countries; political influence; and its strategy for reducing emissions.

The country is combining regulation and energy conservation measures, support for low-carbon energy and carbon pricing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the report stated.